Volleyball teams to start Olympics journey

January 6, 2020 - 17:13

TEHRAN – Iranian men’s and women’s volleyball teams will start the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournament on Tuesday.

The AVC Men's competition will kick off in Jiangmen, China – eight teams, divided into two round-robin pools leading up to crossed semifinals and a final – to stamp one Olympic visa on January 12.

In Pool A, hosts China, most recently finishing fifth at home at Beijing 2008, are targeting their third Olympic appearance, in the company of reigning 2019 Asian champions Iran, who finished fifth at Rio 2016, their only Olympic participation so far, as well as Kazakhstan and Chinese Taipei, who have never made it to the Games as such.

Iran will start the campaign with a match against Chinese Taipei on Jan. 7 and meet Kazakhstan and China in the following days.

“We have an important tournament ahead and know that it will be difficult task because all participant teams will take part at the competition looking to book a berth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” Iran coach Igor Kolakovic told the reporters in Tehran.

 “We have a lot of faith in our team and are hopeful of winning a berth at the Olympics, that’s why we are here. We have no choice but to win a place at Tokyo,” the Montenegrin coach stated. 

2019 Asian Championship runners-up Australia, who ranked eighth at home at Sydney 2000 and played at two more editions of the Games afterwards, lead the way in Pool B, with eight-time Olympic participants Korea as their main contender. India and Qatar will also start the Jiangmen tournament in Pool B, hoping to book Olympic tickets for the first time in history.

Even so, the Iranian young women team have a difficult task in the competition in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.

Iran have been drawn in Pool B along with Indonesia, South Korea and Kazakhstan.

Pool A consists of Chinese Taipei, Australia and Thailand.

The top two of each pool advance to crosswise semifinals, followed by the deciding match and the winners will qualify to the 2020 women's Olympic volleyball tournament.

“I believe in these young players because we’re talking about a generation that can make a change in our volleyball. We are going to improve with our young and experienced players. I have already said this is our second team. The team have an average age of 20 years and average height of 181 centimeters,” Mitra Shabanian said before travelling to Thailand.

“We’ve finished in seventh and eighth places in the previous editions but I hope that we come in a better place in the near future. They are here to make it happen. If we discover our talented players and they get investment at just the right time, I have no doubt we can shine in the continent in the future,” she added.